A new reality show: Prisoner for a Day.


Today is said to be the busiest travel day of the year; experts are predicting an 11.4 percent increase in travelers and they do not see any major problems with the new procedures. NPR has done a number of programs based around the issue and interviewed a few people declaring they will give up traveling by air before submitting to the new “invasive measures.  The truth, I believe, is somewhat different; in time we will accept the new procedures as the status quo and not give it another serious thought.

Think of all of the changes in airline travel we have already endured.  All check-in procedures are longer, more complicated and infringe more on our individual rights and freedoms.  We have to produce identification at least twice before being allowed to board.  We may, at random or by whim of a TSA employee, be frisked, our baggage searched and subject to person questioning.  We are forced to go at least an hour earlier to make allowances for the procedures than we did in the past.  There are no more days of driving up minutes before boarding time, running through the airport (the guy that made it a sporting event is in jail, no running anywhere for him now) leaping over bags and rushing up to an almost closed door of the airplane and then just walking on and taking a seat.

It was possible ten years or so ago, to travel to almost any place in the country, attend a meeting and get back on a plane a go home.  Now those business trips take at least one, if not two, days longer.  We barely get a drink of water during a flight now.  The food, drinks and entertainment that were once standard on all flights over an hour are gone.  We get charged extra for every bag, not just “heavy” ones and we can anticipate future additional charges as the airlines try to compensate for the increases in their costs.  Everything was always more expensive in an airport, but we had a choice, now with the longer waits, tighter controls (you can’t bring your coffee for example through the check points) and lack of food on the flights we are forced to eat one meal, and on a long flight with plane changes, two meals in airports.

All in all, flying today feels more like a visit to a prison reality show – “prisoner for a day” than an exercise of freedom of movement and individual liberty in a democratic country.  But we do not win any prizes or gain any notoriety by participating in this reality show. Happy Thanksgiving!


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November 2010
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